Fish On! A Review of SOTAR’s Strike 13’6″ Fishing Raft

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The 13’6” SOTAR Strike is a platform that allows every tributary angler to achieve any angling ambition.

Paired with the simplicity and effectiveness of the NRS bighorn frame this whitewater angling package is a one-stop shop for river access to prime fishing grounds.

I’ve rowed a lot of rafts in my day, and given the opportunity to demo this package up in the Pacific Northwest was nothing short of a treat. First off, it just looks good, especially with a fresh set of Sawyer MXS oars. Between myself and business partner Andy Lockey we have over a dozen trips with this set-up. Mostly taking it on northern Washington streams consisting of shallow technical water with log jams and woody features in the mix, we quickly found that this is the raft for the job.

The raft itself weighs only 95 pounds, and with a simple frame we were never afraid to have to portage. That gives me a sense of security and readiness for whatever the day or river section throws at me. On the water, its agility and athletic ability rose to the surface (hopefully like the fish we were after). I’m personally used to rowing rafts with ballast floors. The ribbed floor, single-cell design of the Strike took all sluggishness away and gave reliable tracking. Back rowing and ferrying the raft upstream is phenomenal, easily getting to and holding my anglers in the zone to fish at each spot.

The long waterline and diminishing tube design at the bow and stern makes this vessel fast. As you power back on the oars the release of the hull from the surface tension of the water is immediate—it’s what every rowing angling guide demands in a vessel. This raft fully lives up to the term me and my friend group refers to as “water skims,” which is the feeling that I described above, that release of tension, the feeling that “Yes! I’m getting the bang for my energy buck on each oar stroke.” You just feel the boat respond, with every pull on the oars the stern lifts and keeps it on top of the current water-skimming wherever you want. 

The stability of this raft is superior to any other small raft in its class while fishing two anglers. To compare directly with another popular raft used for fishing that I’ve also rowed extensively, the Aire Super Puma, the Strike is only six inches wider and five inches longer yet is noticeably more stable and spacious. The Strike’s waterline is considerably long, helping with the stability, tracking, and speed. Plus the diminishing tubes open up the interior allowing more room for people and gear. As light and nimble this package is, it also does extremely well loaded. Plenty of room for dry box, cooler, rod storage, casting braces, and the kitchen sink. And even when loaded this boat drafts extremely shallow. There were so many times I thought for sure I was about to run a ground or get stuck on a shallow gravel bar that I would normally be stuck on with a drift boat or other raft, but the Strike would float right over. We’re talking ankle deep at times, pretty impressive.

A couple things to note. One downside is when it comes to whitewater, the long waterline and shallow rocker means waves will crash over the bow more easily than they do on other rafts like the Super Puma. Hardly a problem being self bailing, but something to consider if large waves are regularly encountered and you are looking for a dryer ride. Another more odd observation has to do with its material. SOTAR rafts are made with urethane coated fabric, which is very durable and time tested. I couldn’t help but notice that at times it seemed to stick to rocks more than PVC-coated rafts have. Take that thought as you will.

The 13`6” SOTAR Strike paired with the NRS big horn frame would be the first package I’d recommend to any float-fishing angler. In our neck of the woods, it has the ability to conquer any PNW tributary fishery we might want to tackle, even those with whitewater grade design. It looks good, rows well and catches fish.

Neils Humphries and Andy Lockey operate River Dog Outfitters on in the Pacific Northwest, based up on the Nooksack River with trips offered also on the Skagit and a variety of fish-laden rivers.  Follow them on Insta @riverdogoutfitters or check out their River Dog Outfitters website

—Review by Neils Humphries, River Dog Outfitters

 

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